MAY 6, 2015

National Alliance president testifies in support of increased funding for the Charter Schools Program before House Appropriations Subcommittee

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public charter schools need federal support. That was the message from Nina Rees, president and CEO at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as she testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education about the importance of the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). In her testimony, Rees outlined the success of the charter school movement and its impact on communities across the country, and addressed the urgent need for increased funding for the Charter Schools Program.

The CSP is a federal program, currently funded at $253 million, which provides funds to help new charter schools open, replicate and expand the most successful of charter school models, and support the financing of charter school facilities. CSP has provided start up funds to more than 4,200 schools so far.

“Today, nearly 3 million children are attending more than 6,700 public charter schools in 43 states and D.C. Most recently, Oklahoma enacted a law to expand charter schools throughout the state and Alabama authorized charter schools for the first time, becoming the 43rd state with a charter school law,” said Rees. “Charter schools have become a prominent component of the public school landscape in many communities because they offer students and parents high-quality educational options.”

However, there is a great unmet demand for seats in charter schools, and Rees urged public officials at all levels to do more to meet that demand. For example, last year, there were more than a million student name on wait lists but could not attend a charter school because there were not enough spaces. Rees explains that increased CSP funding will help charter schools to get off the ground and enable replication and expansion of successful charter models.

“In addition to opening new charter schools, charter schools also need support in financing and securing adequate facilities,” said Rees. “State and local programs often do not provide charter schools with the same support for capital expenses as is available to traditional schools. In those cases, charter school operators typically have to scramble to find acceptable facilities.”
Rees commended the Administration for including $375 million for CSP in its budget and asked Congress to support this funding level to ensure sufficient funding to open new charter schools in as many states as possible.

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